The United States ambassador to Zambia says local government officials have condemned him for saying he was “horrified” by the sentencing of a local gay couple to 15 years in prison.
Japhet Chataba and Steven Samba were sentenced to 15 years in prison by the High Court in the capital, Lusaka, after they sought a review of their conviction handed last year by a magistrate’s court.
Ambassador Daniel Foote told reporters Monday he would not be intimidated by officials in the southern African nation, where same-sex relationships are criminalized.
It is a legacy of British colonial-era laws, as with several countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
The ambassador’s statement last week said the men’s consensual relationship hurt no one while “meanwhile, government officials can steal millions of public dollars without prosecution.”
Zambia’s foreign affairs minister, Joseph Malanji, says the government is sending a protest letter to Washington over the remarks and accuses the ambassador of meddling in Zambia’s internal affairs.
“To question (the judiciary’s) decision by a representative of a foreign government is tantamount to questioning the Zambian constitution,” Mr Malanji said.
“Until the Zambian constitution is changed to accommodate that, the courts will always rule according to the Zambian constitution,” he said. AP/BBC